Written by Texas Highways
Maybe it never occurred to you to leap from the towering cliffs of Hell’s Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake, but that’s exactly what brings the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series to Texas. The competition (June 3-4, 2016) features divers launching from cliff-side platforms of 90 feet (men) and 66 feet (women) and flipping, twisting, and spinning to the water below. The only way for spectators to see the divers is via the water on boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, etc. Contact the Possum Kingdom Chamber of Commerce for logistical details.
Lucky us: A brilliantly sunny morning greets us on the day we plan to see Galveston by bicycle. It’s been years since I’ve looked at my favorite island from a bike seat, and I’m eager to revisit the sensory experience of taking in the sights and sounds and smells of a place that’s at once so historic and vibrant.
A pod of eight dolphins broke the surface of the water as we turned our sailboat back toward the Corpus Christi skyline. My friend and sailing mentor Guy Le Roux stood at the helm of his 20-foot sailboat in the steady southeastern breeze. The dolphins surfaced behind us, then appeared next to the bow. One after the other, they dove and leaped from the water alongside our boat. Guy slowed our speed to match the pod’s, and for the next few minutes we played an aquatic game of leapfrog. Encounters with dolphins are so common that every major tourist destination on the Texas coast has dolphin-watch tours, but there is something magical about encountering these creatures from your own boat.
Aboard the Tall Ship Elissa docked at Galveston’s Pier 21, two boys pause near the wide base of a towering pole. They both lean back and stare upwards. Horizontally crossed by massive spars and laden with intricate cables and lines, the central mast of this antique yet fully functional square-rigged sailing ship rises more than 99 feet above the main deck. After a moment of silent wonder, one of the boys, squinting and pointing toward a tiny platform high overhead, questions aloud, “Is that the crow’s nest?”
Texans storm the beaches for a wealth of reasons. So, when we envision the perfect beach hotel, each of us conjures a different image. You might want a hotel right smack on a broad, sandy beach where you can toss a Frisbee to your dog. For your neighbor, perfection might lie in a comfy inn with access to fishing or bird-watching. Some prefer lodging overlooking the Gulf of Mexico; for others, the glasslike calm of the bay fits the bill.
Galveston’s Ships Mechanic Row got its name back in the 19th Century when it was an artery of the island’s shipping industry, located just a few blocks from the wharf. The street—also referred to as Mechanic Avenue—bustled with seaport trade back then, and the busy atmosphere persists today with tourists trawling historic downtown Galveston’s shops, museums, and restaurants.
In the 1960s at his Soho building in New York City, “minimalism” icon Donald Judd would take his phone off the hook and park his elevator on the second floor to avoid the agents, the media, and the young artists who saw him as a mentor. He wanted to work without distraction.
A sleek, gray bottlenose dolphin briefly breaks the surface of the water in a smooth, rolling motion. From my perch aboard the Mustang, a 65-foot trimaran, I catch just a glimpse, but before long, the dolphin emerges once again, this time with a second leaping next to it. Captain Tim Sonbert slows to an idle, and as the boat drifts, more dolphins appear. Parents and kids point and squeal with delight, and cameras click away while the dolphins play.
As visitors approach Space Center Houston, the space-themed museum located adjacent to NASA Johnson Space Center, a massive new exhibit looms into view—a replica of a full-size space shuttle mounted atop the original shuttle carrier aircraft.
I sat cross-legged in the sandy dirt at the foot of a blueberry bush at a pick-your-own farm called Blueberry Hill Farms in Edom. It was a hot mid-afternoon in June—prime picking time in Texas—but a breeze blew through the long, green rows of bushes.